The run up to Valentine’s Day is filled with all things mushy, red and heart-shaped. As nothing sells better than emotions, V-Day has also become a booming business. But in an age where e-versions of everything is preferred, we wondered if gift stores across the city have been clocking in the same sales. The result, curiously, is that these special days, especially Valentine’s Day, sell better and bigger.
A walk in to any of the many novelty stores across the city sees them covered in a blanket of red. From velvet-covered props to cushions to wall hangings to heart-shaped confetti, stores cater to the imaginative minds of the besotted and love-struck.
Teddy bears, the poster animal for cute and cuddly, come in a variety of merchandise – snowglobes, keepsakes, key chains, greeting cards, etc, while Paris, every romantic’s dream holiday spot, features as well.
With advertisements centred around celebrating the day and a miscellany of deals and packages for people looking for a getaway, the focus on February 14 has been rather intensive over the past few years. This perhaps explains the rise in sales that Neera Varma, a store manager at Archies gift shop at GVK One mall, has observed.
“I have seen a five per cent increase in the sales over the past 10 days and a 10 per cent growth this week. There are people spending `1,000 on things like musical greetings cards. So, yes sales have definitely gone up,” shares the manager who also stocks `10,000 worth ‘love hampers’ that include a teddy bear, greeting card, chocolates, etc. The hampers can also be customised, she adds with a wink.
Starting from `50, stores like these are wonderlands for last-minute shopping, small gestures of affection and young love and elaborate statements of undying adoration.
If it isn’t a photo frame to fit a picture of the two of you, then maybe bottles with love quotes on them is what you’re looking for. Or a scroll worded poetically that reminds you of that special one. Whatever it maybe, brands like Hallmark and Archies have made a killing by finding a variety of ways to say ‘I love you’ and the tangible aspect of shopping at these stores seems to outweigh online shopping.
Says Chandrika Rao, a 25-year old software employee, “For Valentine’s Day, we buy stuff like photo frames, mugs with messages written on them, etc. It’s like a memory to celebrate love and what we have. Sometimes you cannot express your feelings by yourself, so we gift each other to celebrate love. Which is what makes shopping at these stores pretty cool.”
Though she does feel online portals can give stores a run for their money in the future, she doesn’t discount the fact that she’d still step through the store to window shop at least.
Considering that we’re still a country that’s nascent to online retail, it also probably explains why gift shopping has definitely not seen a decline, feels Ajay Varma, a store owner at Maitrivanam for the past 10 years. “There has never been a decrease. In fact, the number of cards sold goes up during the week preceding Valentine’s Day. The musical cards are the most popular cards right now,” he shares.
The larger exposure to the concept of Valentine’s Day and the mob mentality have also helped stores register their annual V-day sales. Says Divya Jain, student in Applied Psychology, “I think love can be expressed on any day. It’s just that most do it on this day and other people feel compelled to do it as well. Peer pressure leads to such things.”
For many, the gesture of gifting also stems from the watching their favourite stars do so on the big screen. From shots of them shopping at stores like Archies, to dramatic dialogues inspired from love tokens, Tarz Rabbani says stores can thank film culture for their sales. “I feel it is okay to give cute things that express your love, and one certainly does not need a particular day for it. But these days, it’s like a ritual where people give gifts because others are doing so or they find it interesting when celebrities do it on television or in films,” explains the master’s student in Mass Communication.
Not to forget the foray of Yash Raj Films into merchandise, the presenting of your favourite dialogue from your favourite Yash Raj film does earn brownie points.
Greeting card companies actually have teams of copywriters dedicated to writing these awww... inspiring messages. Over years, these companies have managed to stay in touch with these rapidly changing trends. Plus the art of 3D presentation seems to beat the digital any day. From pop-up cards to scented cards to musical cards, an e-card slightly fades in comparison, making physical store owners quite the happy lot.